In This Review

Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage
Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage
By Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew and Annette Lawrence Drew
Publicaffairs, 1998, 352 pp

Not so much one story as a dozen, the tales recounted here paint a gripping chapter in the history of the Cold War confrontation between the American and Soviet militaries. It describes gruesome underwater accidents, near disasters (including collisions between submarines), and some well-known macabre tales like the CIA's attempt to recover a sunken Soviet submarine. Rattling good history, no doubt, but the authors hold back from making an overall judgment about how useful American intelligence actually found these operations, most of which remain highly classified today. Surely some of the efforts, especially the tapping of Soviet underwater cables, had a considerable payoff. All the same, these sea yarns may restore some public interest in the "silent service" at a time when budgetary attrition is whittling away the American submarine fleet.